Has the world debt had an impact on deforestation?

Deforestation is a global issue, which causes damage to the environment, contributes towards climate change and causes extinction of animal species. Over the course of the last three decades, world debt has been a driving force behind commercial deforestation.

Many of the world’s poorest countries borrowed heavily during the 1970s and 1980s; some to offset rising oil prices, some to cover the costs of civil uprisings and some to fund the costs of weapons. Whatever the reasons for the borrowing, the result was huge debt, which needed to be repaid.deforestation

Natural Resources

As a result, countries turned towards their natural resources as the easiest way to finance debt repayments. Unfortunately, in the cases of many of the countries involved, their most valuable natural resources were located in their forests.

Deforestation became inextricably linked to debt due to the fact that forest-based products were readily available and did not require the use of skilled labour. Products like timber and charcoal could be liquidated easily, in order to raise the funds required for debt repayments.

Interest Rates

However, the high interest rates on the money borrowed, combined with the impact the global recession had on world debt, made it increasingly difficult for many countries to repay the money they owed.

Although efforts have been made to reduce debt in many of these countries, through organisations like the IMF, much of the foreign aid went directly towards funding further deforestation projects. In addition, state-run banks in countries like Brazil, which are driven by debt, have also been heavily linked to financing projects which destroy rainforests.

Debt Cycle

Deforestation has created a debt cycle, in which short term gain has been prioritised. Countries in heavy debt turn towards forest conversion as a means of raising funds to pay off debt quickly.

However, in the long term, they are contributing towards future financial problems. For example, it is estimated that the resulting damage to forests could reduce the living standards of the world’s poor by 50 per cent inside 50 years.

What can be done to prevent the spread of deforestation throughout the world?

Issues such as climate change and environmental problems are on the news almost every day and one of the big issues of concern is global deforestation. Forests are an important ecosystem not just for the animals that live there, but for the cycling of water, preventing erosion, filtering the air and producing oxygen. Humans also use forests to harvest resources such as lumber and for recreational activities like hiking and camping. Most people value forests and would agree that they are important to preserve, but they are being lost all over the world.deforestation

Deforestation is a major issue worldwide, as people clear forest to build homes, farm, and raise livestock. Sometimes it seems like a daunting problem, but there are many things people can do every day to help conserve forests.

Perhaps the most obvious thing people can do is recycle. Paper and cardboard can be recycled many times before they wear out, and recycled paper reduces the number of trees that need to be harvested for pulp. Even better is to go paperless wherever possible – keep notes in a smartphone or tablet and switch to paperless billing.

Wood can be a fantastic renewable resource for building and manufacturing, and if harvested properly can be sustainable and even healthy for forests. When renovating or buying furniture, look for wood that is certified as sustainable, something many companies are moving towards.

A less obvious way to preserve forests is to reduce consumption of meat. One of the largest causes of deforestation worldwide is the need to make room for either livestock grazing, or to grow food crops for livestock. Much of the grain fed to cattle in Europe is imported from Brazil, where it was grown on land that used to be rainforest.

Finally, individuals can help protect forests worldwide by supporting nature parks and preserves, and by donating to reputable charities doing conservation work or educating people about the importance of forests.